The Minister of Youth and Sports, Marius Dunca attended on Wednesday the opening ceremony of the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Cluj-Napoca, the first edition organised in Romania after 60 years.
“It is an honor and a moment of pride for Romania to organize again, after 60 years, the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships. Gymnastics is a symbol in Romania. Our gymnasts made us over time proud to be Romanians. They demonstrated so many times, that we can be the first in gymnastics. I wish all athletes participating in this event good luck,” said Marius Dunca.
He watched the ceremony together with the president of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation, Adrian Stoica and the president of the European Union of Gymnastics (UEG), Georges Guelzec.
The official stand also hosted the president of the International Gymnastics Federation, Morinari Watanabe, along with the competition’s Ambassador, multiple Olympic champion, Nadia Comaneci. The first world gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10.0 was openly acclaimed by the 4,000 spectators present at Polyvalent Hall.
European Artistic Gymnastics Championships start in Cluj-Napoca, 60 years after first edition hosted by Romania
The 7th European Artistic Gymnastics Championships have started on Wednesday at the Polyvalent Hall in the Romanian northwestern city of Cluj-Napoca, 60 years after Romania hosted the competition for the first time. Competing will be 274 gymnasts, 168 in men’s events and 106 in women’s events, hailing from 37 countries.
The first major gymnastics competition in the new Olympic cycle will bring to Cluj-Napoca veterans and newbies alike as the European federations are preparing young contestants to run in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
The line-up includes three Rio 2016 Olympic champions: Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece, the rings gold medallist; Oleg Vernyayev of Ukraine, the parallel bars gold medallist and Dutch Sanne Wevers, the women’s beam gold medallist, alongside gymnasts vying for confirmation in senior competitions, including Diana Varinska (Ukraine), Elena Eremina (Russia), Frank Baines (UK), Martino Maggio (Italy), Lyn Genhart (Switzerland), Tomas Kuzmickas (Lithuania) and Rhys McClenaghan (Ireland).
The format of the April 19-23 event is individual only, meaning neither the women’s team, nor the men’s team events will be held in Cluj-Napoca. Under the European Gymnastics Federation’s rules, the team competitions are held every two years.
After qualifying rounds, the best 24 gymnasts in each categories, limited to two per country, will be competing in the men’s and women’s all-around events to be held on Friday. Furthermore, the best eight contesters on each apparatus, also limited to two per country, will advance to the finals on Saturday and Sunday.
Representing Romania at the championships in Cluj-Napoca will be 10 gymnasts: Olivia Cimpian, Ioana Crisan, Larisa Iordache and Catalina Ponor in the women’s events, as well as Marian Dragulescu, Cristian Bataga, Vlad Cotuna, Adelin Kotrong, Laurentiu Nistor and Andrei Ursache in the men’s events.
The schedule comprises: Wednesday – men’s qualifications; opening ceremony (10:00hrs-20:40hrs); Thursday – women’s qualifications (10:00hrs-20:30hrs); Friday – men’s all-around final (13:00hrs -15:45hrs), women’s all-around final (17:30hrs-19:30hrs); Saturday – men’s apparatus finals – floor, pommel horse and rings – women’s apparatus finals – vault and uneven bars (13:30hrs-16:40hrs); Sunday – men’s apparatus finals – vault, parallel bars and horizontal bars – women’s apparatus finals – beam and floor (13:30hrs-16:40hrs). All times are Eastern European Summer Time.
Watching the Romanian gymnasts compete from the bleachers will be Sonia Iovan, a guest of honour at the championships that mark the return of Europe’s elite gymnasts to Romania after 60 years. At the first edition ever hosted by Romania, in 1958 in Bucharest, Iovan became one of Romania’s first two European championship medalists. She won the beam silver and the bronze in the all-around and vault events. Besides Iovan, Elena Leusteanu won silver in the all-around, uneven bars and floor events.
Also there will be Chairman of the International Gymnastics Federation Morinari Watanabe, who has accepted an invitation from the local organisation committee and the Romanian Gymnastics Federation.
Initially, Bucharest City was picked to host the 2017 Individual European Championships, but later on the competition was relocated to Cluj-Napoca as Bucharest City was unable to even start off construction on a new polyvalent hall.
The most important gymnastics competition to be hosted by Romania since 1957 comes at a difficult time. Although gymnastics is the sport to have won Romania the largest tally of Olympic medals – 25 gold, 20 silver and 26 bronze medals – gymnastics achievements have worn thin over the past years. It all culminated with Romania’s women’s gymnastics team failing to qualify to the 2016 Rio Olympics, despite the team having competed in all the Olympics after the 1968 Ciudad de Mexico edition.
In the 2016 European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Bern, Romania won two silver medals, both by Marian Dragulescu (floor and vault), and two bronzes, both by Catalina Ponor (floor and beam).
Laurentiu Nistor, injured at his back, removed on stretcher from competition hall
Athlete Laurentiu Nistor, the first Romanian who entered the competition at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships at Cluj-Napoca has suffered an injury on Wednesday afternoon, seconds after he had started his exercise at the horizontal bar.
Nistor was removed from the gymnastics hall on a stretcher by a medical team.
He had just finished his first rotation at the horizontal bar.
COSR’s Covaliu: European Championships in Cluj are a celebration of sport, I hope they will revive Romanian gymnastics
President of the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee (COSR), Mihai Covaliu, stated on Wednesday for Agerpres that organizing the European Championships in Cluj-Napoca is a celebration of sport and he hopes that this major event will revive the Romanian gymnastics.
“European Championships are an important event for Romania, a celebration of sport in our country. At the same time, it’s a normal thing for us to organize, in 2017, an edition of the European Championships. It’s true, after many years, but it means that Romanian gymnastics is respected and the due importance is given to it. The fact that this competition is held by the Polyvalent Hall in Cluj-Napoca, a hall which meets the requirements of such an event, is an extraordinary thing” Covaliu stated, being present in the hall at the competition that started on Wednesday with the qualifications in male competition.
COSR’s official stated that Romania now enters in the select family of the countries that organize major competitions of artistic gymnastics. “We can say that by this event, Romania gymnastics enters in the big family of the countries that organize such a competition, along with France, which hosted four such editions. After the first edition, the one of the female European Championships in 1957, now Romania enters in this select family in which gymnastics has a very well defined place” Covaliu stated for Agerpres.
The President of the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee admits that he has a sort of “a feeling of anxiety” because organizing the European Championships in Cluj-Napoca occurs in a difficult moment of the Romanian gymnastics. “I don’t know if it is unpleasant, but the moment in which we host these European Championships gives me a slight feeling of anxiety. I mean we dominated the European and world gymnastics so many decades, and now, when our girls are not the best anymore, we have the power to organize this major competition. I hope this edition of the European Championships in Cluj-Napoca will revive the gymnastics of our country, the system in which this sport is performed, and to have those performances again, that beautiful tradition which Romania had for so many years”, he mentioned.
Mihai Covaliu claims that the pressure of the public could be a disadvantage for the 10 Romanian athletes participating to the European Championships, but he hopes they will have the power to focus only on the exercises they have to perform: “I say it’s an open competition, a contest where everybody has chances. In the same time, it’s a competition with “a higher risk” for our athletes, if I am allowed to say so, and this is because they are competing home, in front of their own supporters, of their families and friends. People who supported Romanian athletes for years in front of the TV, now have the opportunity to be in the room at Cluj-Napoca, watching them at the scene. And this is extraordinary, but as I said, there will be an additional pressure for the Romanian athletes who will participate”.
Being asked if Romania can win four medals in Cluj-Napoca, as in the last year’s edition of the European Championships, Covaliu answered: “God help us to end these European Championships as the last year, with two medal for women and two medals for men. Our hopes are not going to one athlete or another, but to all those representing Romania in this competition”.
Nadia Comaneci is back in Cluj-Napoca after 40 years
Nadia Comaneci, Ambassador of the European Individual Gymnastics Championships, arrived at Cluj-Napoca on Tuesday to support the Romanian gymnasts. The former champion said that last time when she was in this city was in 1977, when she “caught” the earthquake, too.
The Goddess of Montreal, assigned to be the Ambassador of the European Championships, was welcomed at the airport by the COSR President, Mihai Covaliu, as well as by the Head of the Romanian gymnastics, Adrian Stoica. Nadia promised that she will encourage the Romanian gymnasts from the bleachers, waiting them to win at least two medals – on beam and floor.
“I’m glad I am here, it’s a great moment, not only because we host European Championships in Romania after 60 years, it’s a celebration of the international gymnastics. I’m glad I am here to celebrate this event. I am waiting to see our girls, or boys, I am waiting to see the hall, I heard it’s very nice. Last time when I was in Cluj was in 1977, I also caught the earthquake here. I will be in the hall every day, except the situations in which I have actions with the sponsors. I hope we’ll see a beautiful competition, we’ll encourage our athletes and I hope we’ll win something (medals – e.n.) on beam and floor” Nadia Comaneci stated on Tuesday, when she arrived on the Cluj International Airport.